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What is our approach to assessment in this project?
How are we assessing the work we and/or our students are creating with the project tools?
How are we assessing whether the project, the tools have been effective?
Assessment is tricky when working on a long term project that is multi-curricular. Sometimes it’s hard to decide what specifically to assess for. By this I mean, am I really going to pay attention to correct spelling, grammar, etc. or am I more interested in the process and connections to subject areas like science and social studies? Is it most important to pay attention to organizations and social development skills, or to the ability to edit and self-assess? Then there are the elements of design (ADST), art and technology skills that also need to be considered.
There are pieces of these types of projects that are more difficult to assess than others. For example, this week we had a mentor from T’Sou-ke Nation work with the kids to design drums to be gifted to the school. My class is grade 5, so the kids will be moving on to middle school next year and they want to leave something to say thank you and good by. I was gifted with a hide at the beginning of the year, so the kids have been involved in all the drum making steps, from cutting and soaking the hide to choosing the designs and painting the drums (we have only gotten to the pulling and drying stage so far plus the children have chosen the designs). During the whole process, the Elder talked to the kids about the masculine and feminine elements that we all carry (one drum is masculine and one is feminine) and the importance of keeping a good mind, heart, hands, eyes and ears while working with drum. Topics like honouring the animal and tree that the drum materials came from and the importance of using all parts were regularly reinforced. The lessons were so important and the students were fully engaged. What does assessment for this type of processes look like?
The lessons learned working as a group and from the Elder, as well as their thoughts and feelings throughout the drum making activities are what I want the students to remember. In order to do so, their was lots of time for discussion and reflection. My assessment will involve my observations and notes. In addition, all students have a field guide that they complete in their own style each time we have classroom guests or take part in an off site field study. The criteria and expectations for the field guides are clear, but students choose how they would like to document their learning (art, fun facts, songs, poems, paragraphs, etc.). I can post a photo of the field guide criteria in the resources section. For this particular activity, field guides would be assessed for basic language arts skills, but the emphasis would be on Aboriginal content in science and social studies. There are many other learning standards that are addressed in rich, experiential activities like these.
For my students, I want to see that they fully understand their topic and that by going through the processes involved in designing, organizing, researching and producing their projects, they have connected with their topic and see the relevance and importance of it to them as individuals and to their families and community.
I think the great thing about a project like this is that it does lend itself to assessment across the curriculum. You can also quite easily get overwhelmed and confused about what to assess. I am thankful for this month’s blog questions because they have helped me to clear up some of my own personal questions about what I am really looking for the kids to take from this project.
In order to see that students have spent time collaborating and organizing their research questions, I will use their completed inquiry/research packages that I mentioned last blog and have listed in the resources section. To help with assessment of their completed projects, I will refer to the criteria package that the students and I developed for the project. This package discusses the possible products students can create to share their learning; some are required and some are optional. This document is a work in progress. I have included one example of the criteria packages in the resources section.
I’m not sure that I have covered all 3 questions for this blog, but I am happy to be thinking more deeply about assessment for this project. I look forward to see everyone else’s posts too!